Rep. Arnolfo Teves gets 60 days suspension as House OKs ethics panel report
MANILA, Philippines — Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves has been slapped with a 60-day suspension for his continuous absence in the House of Representatives.
This came as all lawmakers present – 292 – during the time of voting favored the report of the House committee on ethics and privileges, which deliberated on Teves’ not returning to work despite his lapsed travel authority. Teves was abroad and was granted authority to travel until March 9.
No lawmaker voted against the report or abstained.
READ: Ethics panel to make Teves explain absence from House despite expired travel authority
The panel’s Committee Report No. 472 was submitted to the House committee on rules on Tuesday afternoon. It was tackled during the House plenary session on Wednesday.
During the session, House committee on ethics and privileges chair and COOP-NATCCO Party-list Rep. Felimon Espares said that Teves’ refusal to come home and attend to his House duties have affected the “dignity, integrity, and reputation of the House.”
“We are at liberty to say that the real issue of the cases at hand is whether or not the conduct of Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. – staying abroad with expired travel clearance and his continued defiance to the orders of the House to return to the country and perform his duties as House member, constitute disorderly behavior affecting the dignity, integrity, and reputation of the House,” Espares said.
“Therefore ladies and gentlemen, the Committee on ethics and privileges hereby submits its committee report on the result of this investigation, on the motu proprio investigation […] finally, after a thorough deliberation and observance of due process the Committee hereby recommends to the House the imposition of penalty of 60 days suspension from the service,” he added.
Espares previously announced that the panel has arrived at a decision, but refused to divulge it as it should be forwarded to the House committee on rules first, and then to the plenary.
READ: Teves still no-show, defies House deadline
READ: House ethics reaches decision on Teves’ absence, to divulge it in plenary
Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, meanwhile, said the House will not tolerate any behavior that is unbecoming of a lawmaker.
“Under my leadership, the House of Representatives will never ever countenance any conduct unbecoming of a House member,” he stressed.
The committee made a decision without hearing Teves’ side, as the panel wanted the lawmaker to appear physically during the hearings. Teves’ camp, however, maintained that they can only do videoconferencing due to alleged threat to his life and family.
Teves’ claimed threats came after he was implicated as an alleged mastermind in the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo by a Special Investigation Task Group. Teves has denied any involvement in the crime, saying he and his brother, former governor Pryde Henry Teves, would not gain anything from it.
READ: Cong. Teves condemns brutal killing of Gov. Degamo, denies involvement
In a video uploaded on his Facebook page on Tuesday night (March 21), Teves asked why the committee is singling him out, noting that other lawmakers have been absent more often than him. He also dared the House to release attendance records for the past and current Congress – from 17th to 19th – to show that he is not a habitual absentee.
Teves asks ethics panel: Why question only my absences, not other lawmakers?
Romualdez: We respect Teves’ rights, but he still didn’t come home despite assurances
Romualdez urges besieged Teves: Come home
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